How orthodox is your view of Christ?
Take this quiz and see how closely your views align with what Scripture teaches. Write your responses down before looking at the answers at the end of this post! Answer "true" or "false" for each of the statements below:
- The Son of God left heaven to become a man and save us.
- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are different forms God takes; sometimes God acts as Father, sometimes as Son, and sometimes as Holy Spirit.
- The Son's human nature was created, but the Son's divine nature is eternal.
- The Son of God did not give up any of His divine attributes in the Incarnation.
- There was a time when the Son did not exist.
- The Son's essence is the same as the Father's essence and the Holy Spirit's essence.
- Jesus's divine nature and human nature mixed to form a new nature.
- Jesus has two persons living in one body.
- Jesus became the God's Son when He was baptized, and God declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
- Jesus has a human mind, body, and soul.
Phil Sasser delivered a message on how the early church came to articulate certain truths about Christ. After the apostles died, Christianity spread quickly. Messengers carried the gospel message as far as north Africa and India. The emphasis on God's love made the Christian message appealing for those steeped in Stoic philosophy. The early church's practical expressions of love also provided a sweet witness to the grace of God that attracted people.
However, as the number of Christians grew, so did persecution. People accused Christians of incest because husbands called their wives "sister," and of cannibalism because believers spoke of the Lord's Supper as eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ. Slander and mistreatment happened at local levels, but Christians occasionally became the target of national persecution. Efforts by emperors to punish Christians sometimes resulted in torture or execution. In the time of Emperor Decius, Christians who would not burn incense to the Roman gods were martyred.
Battling Maxentius and Battling Heresy
In 312 AD, Constantine was to fight Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge. Constantine saw a vision of the first two Greek letters of "Christ" and a message that read, "with this sign, you will conquer." He then won the battle against a force twice the size of his. The next year, he, along with other emperors, issued the Edict of Milan, which granted full religious tolerance to Christians. After being granted religious liberty, Christians devoted more of their efforts to clarify their doctrine and refute heresy. Among these heresies were:
- Docetism, which taught that Jesus didn't have a real body;
- Gnosticism, which taught that there was a spectrum of gods;
- Arianism, which taught that the Son of God was created;
- Apollinarianism, which denied Jesus's full humanity;
- Nestorianism, which taught that Christ was two persons; and
- Modalism, which denied the Trinity and taught that God only took on the forms of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at various times.
Elements of these heresies still exist today in the United Pentecostal Church and Jehovah's Witnesses.
Listen to Phil's full message and download his outline here.
Now, here are the answers to the quiz:
- False. It is true that the Son became a man and saved His people. However, when Scripture talks about the Father sending the Son, this does not imply that the Son stopped existing in heaven at the Incarnation. Jesus is fully God. Therefore, He is omnipresent. In His divine nature, Jesus existed in heaven and on earth at the same time.
- False. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are different persons in the Godhead, not merely different forms. God simultaneously exists as each of these three persons all the time. He has always existed as three persons.
- True. The Son's glorious divine attributes were veiled, but not changed or discarded.
- False. The Son has always existed, even though God created Jesus's human nature at a point in time.
- False. Jesus's divine and human natures are inseparable, but distinct.
- False. Jesus's humanity and divinity are two distinct natures existing in one person, not two persons in one body.
- False. All the fullness of deity dwelt in Jesus from His conception.
- True. Jesus is fully human, and is like us in every way except that He is without sin. The Incarnation brought together the Son's divine nature with a human nature, which means He has a human mind, body, and soul, and emotions, as well.